Shakespeare's Globe in Windsor
By Linda Serck
While The Merry Wives Of Windsor may be the only connection William Shakespeare has to the town, a local theatre company has just ensured the playwright has an even stronger link.
William Shakespeare's Globe may be known primarily as a London theatre, but Windsor is now also getting in on the act.
A temporary Globe is in place until Sunday 2 August 2009 to stage the first ever Shakespeare Play in Alexandra Gardens.
Constructing the Windsor Globe
A Midsummer Night's Dream is a collaboration between Bracknell's Artemis Theatre and the Bart Lee Theatre.
Producer Niki Robinson from Artemis worked in Windsor ten years ago when she first began her acting career and has never forgotten the beautiful setting.
"I used to go down to Alexandra Gardens whenever we had breaks and just looking at the space I knew it would be brilliant for outdoor theatre," she says.
"It's got an amazing backdrop with the castle and even the wheel. It's right next to the river and Eton Bridge."
Niki and Bart, who've worked together over the last ten years, had the idea for constructing a Globe theatre after wanting to provide maximum 'Shakespearean' atmosphere within an open space.
"The Globe and Shakespeare are synonymous," says Niki, "and we were going to need to build some kind of structure to give it a form. You can't just do open air with no fencing or anything like that.
The Windsor Globe
"So the options were to either do it in a tent, which is fine if it rains but otherwise it's not particularly atmospheric and it could be anywhere.
"It had to be somewhere where people could see the environment at the same time as feeling they were getting a private show. So the Globe was just an obvious solution."
The Windsor Globe is a single-storey version of the big iconic theatre in London and has been designed to be a tourable structure.
"We produce a lot of shows so we have an amazing team of technicians and set designers," says Niki.
"We're very used to building sets that can be put up and taken down very quickly. They're like ginormous jigsaw puzzles."
The team wanted a 25 to 28-metre diameter globe space and had a scale model built before constructing the real thing.
"It's actually pretty simplistic in its construction, it's just very heavy!" says Niki.
The Windsor Globe took three days to put up, but will only take half a day to take down again.
A Midsummer Night's Dream
"It was the first time it had gone up so all of the panels had to be painted from scratch and all the wood detailing put on," says Niki.
"Next year, or if we tour it into another county, the jigsaw form is now constructed and ready to go, it just needs to be taken apart and stored."
The structure is primarily made of wood and scaffolding, the interior is covered in theatrical flame-proof fabric.
Their first production, which launched on Tuesday 28 July 2009, is already proving very popular and the theatre team hope to return next year with two productions, extending the performances from one week to two weeks, including a matinee production for children to be involved in.
One of the plays they're considering for 2010 is Much Ado About Nothing. But BBC Berkshire suggests that The Merry Wives Of Windsor would be an ideal play to stage in the town.
"It's pretty apt!" laughs Niki, "but this is the lovely thing about Shakespeare: we've got a lot to choose from."
There will be a VIP gala performance on Friday 31 July 2009 in aid of Great Ormond Street Hospital.
Ticket holders on that evening will stay after the show to take part in a VIP party with a champagne reception, silent auction, meet cast and celebrity guests and dance to live music in the globe.
A donation from each ticket and the proceeds of the silent auction with luxury prizes will be raised for the children's hospital.
Tickets for the gala are £20 per person and available on the Windsor Globe website:
last updated: 30/07/2009 at 16:21